Showing posts with label Security guards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Security guards. Show all posts

March 19, 2013

Boston Globe Correspondent Stephen Kurkjian Interviews ISGM guard who let in the thieves in 1990; Abath says he's never been ruled out as a suspect by investigators

Boston Globe Correspondent Stephen Kurkjian reported March 10 in "Decades after the Gardner Heist, police focus on guard" who opened the door to the robbers more than 23 years ago in the largest art theft:
Night watchman Richard Abath may have made the most costly mistake in art history on March 18, 1990, when he unlocked the doors of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for two robbers who stole 13 works of art valued at more than $500 million. For years, investigators discounted the hapless Abath’s role in the unsolved crime. But, after 23 years of pursuing dead ends, investigators are focusing on intriguing evidence that suggests Abath might have been in on the crime all along.
According to Kurkjian, investigators blamed Abath's actions on 'his excessive drinking and pot smoking':
But, after 23 years of pursuing dead ends, including a disappointing search of an alleged mobster's home last year, investigators are focusing on intriguing evidence that suggests the former night watchman might have been in on the crime all along -- or at least knows more about it than he has admitted.
Why, they ask, were Abath's footsteps the only ones picked up on motion detectors in a first floor gallery where one of the stolen paintings, by French impressionist Edouard Manet, was taken? And why did he open the side entrance to the museum minutes before the robbers rang the buzzer to get in? Was he signaling to them that he was prepared for the robbery to begin? 
No one publicly calls Abath a suspect, but federal prosecutors grilled him on these issues last fall. And one former prosecutor in the case has written a recently published novel about the Gardner heist in which the night watchman let the thieves into the museum to pay off a large cocaine debt."
Abath insists that he had nothing to do with the heist, Kurkjian writes.
'Abath, then a rock musician moonlighting as a security guard, said he opened the doors that night because he was intimidated by men dressed as police officers who claimed to be investigating a disturbance. His own uniform untucked and wearing a hat, Abath knew he looked more like a suspect than a guard.'
The 46-year-old Abath agreed to speak to The Globe to gain publicity for a book he is writing about the ISGM theft, according to Kurkjian. Abath told Kurkjian that the former security guard 'realized he was under suspicion four years ago when FBI agents asked to meet him at a Brattleboro, Vermont, coffee shop.'
"After years of not hearing a word the people charged with the task of solving the Great Museum Robbery, they popped up; they wanted to talk," Abath wrote in the manuscript he shared. To his surprise, one agent told him, "You know we've never been able to eliminate you as a suspect."
Kurkjian writes that Abath said that on the night of the robbery he had been sober and had just given his two-week notice. James J. McGovern, who worked on the federal investigation for the US attorney's office in 2006, wrote a novel, Artful Deception (2012), portrays a night security guard who was an accomplice in the Gardner heist [Kurkjian].

May 14, 2011

ARCA 2011 Student Katherine Luer on Art History, Museum Security, Matisse, and Traveling in Italy

Katherine Luer inside one of the towers
of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
ARCA Blog: What is your academic background and how did you come to commit to a summer in Umbria studying art crime?
Katherine Luer: I am just about to graduate from Georgetown University with my BA in Art History and minors in both Italian and Spanish. I've been interested in entering the field of art crime for several years now, and when I heard about the ARCA program about a year ago I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated.
ARCA Blog: The program culminates in the writing of a publishable article. What area of art crime or cultural protection would you like to research?
Katherine Luer: I've worked as a security guard at a museum here in Washington and thus am highly interested in museum security. That being said, I someday hope to work with the FBI's Art Crime Team and so the history of such groups inside law enforcement (Scotland Yard, the carabinieri, etc) interests me as well.
ARCA Blog: Do you have a current fascination with an artist or period of art?
Katherine Luer: My great love has always been Matisse, but lately I've been enjoying the work of Modigliani, Munch and Klee as well. Any early modern work fascinates me.
ARCA Blog: Have you traveled or lived in Italy and what would you like to do there when you are not attending lectures?
Katherine Luer: I've traveled extensively all around the country and lived in the small town of Fiesole for several months. Regardless, I'd like to travel more, particularly in the south, and look forward to showing the other students some of my favorite towns!

February 24, 2011

ARTINFO reports Security Guard Stole Paintings from Corsican Museum for Ransom -- Only to Lose Them to Other Thieves

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

ARTINFO France reported today (Feb. 23) in an article, "Desperate Museum Guard Holds Renaissance Masterpieces For Ransom, Only to Have Them Stolen From His Car," that a security guard from Corsica's Fine Arts Museum in the Palais Fesch stole four paintings, submitted his ransom demand for housing through a local television station, and when he led police to his car, discovered that the window had been smashed and that the four paintings had been stolen from his car.

The security guard is a divorced father without a criminal record who was facing eviction from his apartment. ARTINFO reports:
Mocellini had served as a security guard some 20 years at Ajaccio's Fine Arts Museum, an institution known to have the second-largest collection of Italian paintings in France, surpassed only by the Louvre. When he finished his shift on Saturday morning, he absconded with one French painting and three Italian Renaissance works from the famed collection: Poussin's "King Midas at the source of the Pactole River," Bellini's "Virgin and Child," Mariotto di Nardo's "Pentecost," and an anonymous Umbrian artist's "Virgin and Child."
The Palais Fesch musée des beaux-arts, which reopened in June after a two-year 7 million euro renovation, houses one of France's most important art collections, second to the Louvre in Italian paintings. The four paintings, like most of the collection, were once in the Rome collection of Cardinal Joseph Fesch, one of the most important art collectors of his generation (1763-1839) and a Bonaparte supporter. During Fesch's lifetime, he owned 16,000 paintings, mostly Italian Renaissance paintings, and donated many works to his native city of Adjaccio upon his death.

Unfortunately, each of the stolen works was the museum's sole representation of that artist at the Adjaccio museum. Nicholas Poussin's "King Midas at the Source of the Pactole River" is a 17th century French oil on canvas measuring 58 x 82 centimeters; Giovanni Bellini's "Virgin and Child" is a 15th century tempura on wood measuring 65 x 46,5 centimeters; Mariotto di Nardo's "Pentecost" is a 15th century tempera on wood measuring 47 x 28 centimeters; the "Virgin and the Infant in the glory of the seraphins" by a 16th century Umbrian painter is a tempera on wood measuring 53 x 34 centimeters.

Photos: Clockwise: Poussin's "Midas"; Anonymous Umbrian Painter's "Virgin and the Infants in the glory of the seraphins"; Bellini's "Virgin and Child"; and Mariotto di Nardo's "Pentecost"; lower right is the Fresch Palais in Adjaccio, Corsica.